"I remember thinking, 'God I'd give anything to be white. I just want to be white, I just want to be white,'" the reality star recalls.
Tan France has revealed he bleached his skin to look more pale when he was a child.
In his new memoir, "Naturally Tan," the "Queer Eye" star, who grew up in England as the son of Pakistani immigrants, opened up about succumbing to societal "pressure".
"When I was ten years old, I used to bleach my skin," he wrote, according to People. "I actually stole the cream from one of my cousins who used it often. To this day, I haven't had the balls to tell her I took it, because, since then, I've been ashamed of the fact that I succumbed to the pressure."
"The importance of being pale is very bizarre," he added. "The people around me certainly intend to pass on this belief, but I was aware of it and affected by it just the same."
France recalled a particular moment to explain his family's views on skin color.
"One of my best friends in the UK is Benghali and has beautiful dark skin," he said. "One of my family members saw us together and said, 'That's fine if that's just his friend, but she'd better not be his girlfriend, because they might have dark children.'"
When the fashion expert was only five years old, he began thinking about lightening his skin.
"I remember thinking, 'God I'd give anything to be white. I just want to be white, I just want to be white,'" he recalled. "I had been so conditioned to think that if you were white, you were automatically more attractive."
"No one else knew I was using it," he explained. "I didn't want family to know, as they were so sweet and accepting that I knew they would have stopped me because they thought I didn't need need it. I kept the dirty little secret to myself. I'd only use it at night, before bed, when no one was going to catch me."
He added, "Let me tell you, that shit hurt."
As a Pakistani, France recalled being bullied while growing up in England because he looked different.
"Growing up, the other kids made fun of my siblings and me, and it came from both sides," he said. "The other brown kids would say we were coconuts -- brown on the outside, white on the inside."
France continued, "Due to the color of our skin, we weren't accepted in white culture. So we didn't quite fit in."
Despite these challenges in his youth, France ultimately overcame his struggles and became the first openly gay, South Asian man on TV.
"Thankfully, I matured, and the bleaching wasn't something I wanted to sustain," he said. "Now, if you ask me what my favorite thing about my appearance is, I'll say my skin. I think my skin color is beautiful."
"As a ten-year-old, I could never have imagined that you could find my skin color beautiful, and I'm willing to bet most nonwhite people have thought the same thing," he added. "That is a sorry state of affairs."
"Naturally Tan" is out now.
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